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The Past and Purpose of Paella

Posted in Caro Diario.(dear diary..), Country House Living, cucina, and cucina povere

Guest Editor: Christina Joell

copyright 2017 Art of Living, PrimaMedia,Inc.

Paella is an entrée that you can find in nearly all of Spain. In fact, the dish has branched out to even other Spanish speaking countries, but also non Spanish speaking countries have become fascinated by this delicious dish.  In Italy, Saturday night ‘get togethers’  sometimes include having friends over and  making paella together!

Perhaps you’ve tried this Spanish dish once or twice, made it in your home, or even just heard of it, but do you know its’ origins?

There are a few different ideas to how paella was created, but the undisputed fact was that it probably originated in Valencia, Spain. Valencia is a region in eastern Spain. It is said that workers tracing back to the Moorish rule would take rice and combine meat, vegetables, and other spices into a pan because it was a motley array of food they had access to that helped them feed their families. Or simply put, like the origins of cucina povere (peasant kitchen) in Italy, it gave people a way to create a tasty meal making use of and not wasting  leftovers or foods they could find. And thus, paella was created! From there, paella grew in popularity. Now, it is a dish that is used to share among friends and family. The wonderful thing about Paella is that is it so adaptable and will never taste exactly the same in any restaurant that you go to because there’s so many variations to it. The spices, the meats, the vegetables, even the rice that’s used can be  altered in a way to be specific to that restaurant. In traveling  around Spain, the country that gave birth to paella you will find variations depending on the region you are in. For instance, in Barcelona, you will find a ‘soupier’ vegetable paella and in Madrid a savory, seafood paella full of spices.

In Italy, the dish would be made with arborio or carnaroli rice.

If you want to look like a native in Spain, or not give yourself away as a tourist, be sure to order paella for lunch only, not dinner! Spaniards know that the real paella is  quite a heavy dish to order for their dinner time which tends to be 10 or 11 PM at night.

Food for thought: an interesting fact about Paella is that the name of it doesn’t refer to the food itself. The name is actually derived from the pan that is used to cook it! The pan is long and flat, usually large, and that resembling a thin skillet with handles on both sides.


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